The University of Findlay’s Mazza Museum 2020 Summer Conference was one that not only delivered its regular cornucopia of educational material, discussion, and fun, it also provided a much-needed respite from the goings-on in our current world climate.
The three-day conference, held from July 13 through 15, was held virtually this year, but the camaraderie and connection that make it such a beloved and necessary bi-annual event was clearly evident and well-intact, despite the change to online delivery.
It was a well-rounded group of attendees, according to Mazza Museum director Ben Sapp. “We had 17 states represented, people from Canada, Columbia, from Japan, and from the Netherlands,” he said. 12 of the 174 registered individuals took the conference for academic credit, he added.
The folks who attended the interactive conference, one that was full of educational and engaging presentations from some of the top authors and illustrators in the picture book industry, made clear that it was a success for them, regardless of how it needed to be delivered. “I was skeptical about whether or not a virtual conference would work,” said attendee and Mazza docent Mary Klein. “I love the in-person conference so much, but I was pleasantly surprised! The humor, warmth, love of art and reading, and connections for which Conference is known, were all conveyed through cyberspace.”
Elizabet Vukovic, an illustrator from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, was among the keynote speakers for the event, along with Daniel Minter and Wendell Minor, and the virtual delivery didn’t appear to dampen her enthusiasm for it, either. She thanked the Museum for the opportunity to connect, and explained how welcome the staff and attendees made her. “This has been such a wonderful and inspiring experience,” she added. “I appreciate all of what you do and the wonderful people at Mazza. You’ve organized this virtual conference so well, especially because of your great care, support and guidance.”
The topics of the conference, from painting with Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients using children’s books to using technology and literature together to “Living Inside the Books You Read,” appeared to help serve as an educational and emotional balm of sorts. Attendee Ramona Caponegro encapsulated this feeling when she said that “the virtual conference did [so much] to connect people and bring a sense of normalcy, different as the conference was, to regular attendees’ summers. Congratulations [is due for] making the first virtual conference such a success.”
Plans for the virtual 2020 Fall Conference are being discussed, and visits to the Museum are becoming available again by appointment only, beginning August 12.